inspiring hope and healthy living
by providing behavioral health and wellness services one person at a time.

Living Beyond “OK”

These days we hear the phrase “It’s ok not to be ok” a lot.  While there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues, we have come a long way and people are more open to share their experience and/or accept those who share, rather than judge or shame them. 

We don’t expect it to happen to us, though.

Everyone goes through times in life where things aren’t happening as planned… we suffer a great loss, our job isn’t going well, our child receives a diagnosis we weren’t prepared for, we didn’t get into the college we wanted, too many household appliances break down at once… Various issues at varying degrees of life impact.  It is beyond normal for an issue of concern to knock us off balance and it can be hard to navigate on this new, rocky path.  So, yes… It is ok to not be ok.

But, have you considered that you can be more than just “ok?”  We can navigate life’s disappointments and tragedies and come out stronger…and happier?

When life is out of balance and the “shoulds” (I should be over this by now, I should do the laundry, I should be a better friend, I should move from this spot) have taken over and are sending us deeper into despair, there is still hope.  Hope that things will get better.  Truly believe that they will get better.

Here are a few steps to keep in mind as you head down the road to “good.”

You are not alone in this!  Circumstances may be different for each person, but everyone goes through a dark time in one form or another.  Find someone you trust and talk through it with them. More than likely, they will have insight to give on how they got through their own dark time.

Be mindful. Pay attention to the thoughts and actions that push you down. Do what you can to eliminate those from daily life.  If it’s a situation or a job causing the unhappiness, consider what you can do to get beyond it. And, if it’s a situation you need to get yourself out of, work on a plan to do it wisely.

Focus on the good.  Yes, today may have been a really bad day, but there was something that wasn’t quite as bad as everything else… Think on that. And, on the good days, be thankful for the reprieve.  Look at what went well, consider why it happened that way and aim for more good days.

Forgive yourself.  There may be days when just the thought of moving can be paralyzing.  That’s ok. Take a break. But, don’t allow these days to take over… Push through them as much as you can.  Forward motion is key. Even if you’re taking small steps, you’re still moving. The problem comes when you are stagnant; when you allow the darkness to take over and keep you from pushing forward.

Get plenty of rest.  Not getting enough sleep can cause bigger issues.  Plan ahead for bedtime… Stay away from caffeine and sugar later in the day.  And, keep your bed and bedroom a welcoming and comfortable place that is free from distractions like tv, your computer or cellphone.

Make time for exercise.  It’s proven that daily exercise boosts your mood and is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.  Take a walk. Ride a bike. Exercise or do yoga along with an online video. There are so many options for being active… and, many of them don’t cost anything! You can even turn it into positive family time that everyone can enjoy.

Plan time for yourself. Do something you enjoy… read a book, go outside and take photographs, go see a movie.  It can be hard to find time to yourself, but it’s important that you have time to recharge.

And, most importantly…  Seek out help, if you need it.  If you feel like you can’t walk through this darkness on your own, reach out for professional help.  There is no shame in bringing someone alongside you to help navigate the journey. They can provide tools and insight to help you get to the other side.

TrueNorth is here, if you need us! We have a staff willing to help you navigate the rocky road and get back on the path to “good.”  We want to help you get beyond “ok,” to a happy and fulfilling life!  It can happen… we’ve seen it!

TrueNorth in the Community: September 2019

Seussical the Musical was a huge success!  The 8th Annual event, hosted by the Bill Gladstone Group of NAI CIR, is an exclusive live performance for children with special needs and their families. It is a free and fun family activity in a supportive and understanding environment, with comfortable lighting and lowered sound. Prior to the performance, attendees enjoyed a time of crafts, balloon animals, therapy dogs, tire truck tours and pizza. A big THANK YOU to all who helped to make this event happen!



Ruth Shaffer, Branch Manager at York Traditions Bank {and also VP of the TrueNorth Board} recently presented Melissa Speal, our Director of Administrative Services, with a check for $2,500, as part of Pennsylvania’s EITC Program.

Hanover Supportive Living held its annual Crab Picnic at Codorus State park on August 21, an event that clients get excited about every year!

Hanover Social Rehab took a field trip to Dr. Ashley Bear’s Farm. Dr. Bear oversees the nurses from Harrisburg Area Community College, who intern with Soc Rehab each Thursday. While on the farm clients were able to ride horses and interact with the animals. Dr. Bear made a nice lunch for the clients as well.

LeeAnn Collins, Michele Gladfelter, Krista Hymes and Laura Bosley represented TrueNorth at the Re Entry Services Fair in York in August.  The event was an opportunity for individuals who are returning to the community after incarceration to connect with area organizations that can help with career training, mental and physical health needs, legal services, educational opportunities, dealing with disabilities, transportation, housing options and day-to-day needs. 

Supportive Living Counselor, Chris Rider, hosted a Rock Band activity at the Hanover Supportive Living 2&3 office. He invited clients from all Hanover Supportive Living locations to participate. Chris made food for the event and clients also brought snacks to share. Everyone had a fantastic time!

Program Feature : Emergency Crisis Intervention

Jayne Wildasin, Manager of Crisis Intervention, York and Adams Counties

Quick Overview:
Crisis Intervention is the backbone to many services at TrueNorth Wellness Services, supporting all of the programs by providing follow up care to all the clients we serve.  Crisis can be a standalone service, in that many people just need the opportunity to share their story and pain without ever needing other services, or it can serve as a stepping stone to higher levels of care.

Recent Accomplishments:
TrueNorth Crisis Intervention is one of 122 accredited crisis centers across the country, and maintains an American Association of Suicidology (AAS) accreditation through 2022.  We continue to be a part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) –  one of about 150 call centers across the country. Additionally, we have two individuals trained as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) instructors, which is an evidence-based model of suicide intervention.    We continue to provide mobile crisis services across Adams, York and Fulton counties and have created a crisis help desk to allow all employees to request  crisis to provide follow up calls on an as needed basis.

Current Challenges:
We have continued to see an increase in call volume and face to face intervention numbers while having no increase in staffing numbers.  Mobile crisis interactions take longer, due to drive times andneeding to respond to calls in teams. 

What we’re working on:
The TrueNorth Crisis team recently developed our own set of guiding principles.

  1. Crisis Workers act as advocates to provide our clients with safe treatment
  2. We provide services in the least restrictive environment
  3. We believe when a child, regardless of age, is in crisis that the entire family is in crisis
  4. We focus on providing community based crisis intervention
  5. We use collaborative decision making

The crisis supervisory team is working on revising the training program for new employees.

Upcoming Goals:
There is a need to develop the ability to provide follow up calls via text or email.  In the culture today, many individuals do not feel comfortable talking on the phone, but are willing to text or chat.  Some individuals do not have minutes on cell phones but are able to text.   As technology advances we need to be able to advance as well.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs

Another school year is here. New classes, new friends, new adventures. And, new concerns. We send our kids out the door, to a new chapter of life, hoping we’ve properly prepared them for what they will encounter.

But, have we? Did we cover all the bases?

When was the last time you talked to your child about substance use? It’s a hard conversation, because talking about it brings it to their attention and maybe if we don’t say anything, we can shield them from the dangers.

While the desire to protect our kids is understandable, avoiding the topic isn’t the best approach. Whether we talk with them about it nor not, they are being bombarded from a young age with messages that smoking, drinking and drugs are ok – “cool” even – as long as you don’t get carried away with it. But, that’s the problem… Trying something, even once, is too much in many cases.

  • By 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana.
  • In PA, 17.6% of youth age 12-17 say they’ve consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. 7.5% binged alcohol in the past two weeks and 1.4% drove while intoxicated.
  • 1 in 15 PA Middle School students and 1 in 4 PA High School students have vaped in the past 30 days
  • 50% of high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice and 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 180,000 adolescents ages 12-17 received treatment for a drug or alcohol problem in 2016.

But, there is good news, too…
Teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

Here are a few tips to make the conversation a bit easier:

Start early (Preschool age isn’t too soon)
Parent Magazine published a great article about how to broach the topic at any age and build a solid foundation.

Set expectations and consequences
Substance use is a serious issue. It’s not enough to just say “don’t do drugs.” Lay out a clear plan explaining what the rules are in your home and what the consequences will be if they break those rules.

Focus on the positive
The conversation doesn’t need to be all negative and scary information. Point out the positives as well. Yes, 17.6% of PA youth have used alcohol in the past 30 days. But, 82.4% have not! When they feel pressured to take part because “everyone is doing it,” they can know that they are not in the minority for making wise choices.

Create a safe space where kids feel free to come to you
As you are talking and laying out a plan with your child, it is important to make them feel safe and comfortable so they will come to you. Many times there are underlying issues beyond peer pressure that cause young people to seek out substances. Be sure to create a safe environment where your child feels comfortable coming to you to discuss those issues rather than turning to substances as a bandaid.

Be a good role model
Most importantly, young people learn by example. It’s ok to be open and share your experiences at their age – they will probably ask – but, if you do, be prepared to answer questions honestly and explain in hindsight what you would have done differently.

Keeping our kids safe and headed on the path to adulthood can be daunting at times. But, break it down into easy steps. Seek out resources to help you frame your conversations. The internet is a great resource. And, check your area for community programs to help educate and prepare you.

You’ve got this!

Written by Angel Nace, BS, TTS – TrueNorth Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist, with input from Anita Crawford. 

Program Feature : Family Based

Sabrina Valente, MA – Program Director

Quick Overview:

Family-Based is an important part of the continuum of care of services provided at TrueNorth Wellness because we work to help families stay together and to increase the emotional wellness of everyone in the family.

Recent Accomplishments:
All Family-Based staff are required to complete a three-year, 270 hour training in Eco-Systemic Structural Family Therapy(ESFT), the therapy model that is used in this program. At TrueNorth, we train with the Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center (PCFTTC). Upon completion of the necessary number of hours, staff submit what’s called a competency packet to the training center which includes, among other things, video of their work with families showing that they are working the model as intended. Supervisors are required to submit videos of supervision, showing them working the model in supervision, the same way that therapists would apply it in sessions. PCFTTC then review these packets and videos and determine if staff are competent in the model. This three-year training program and subsequent competency criteria submission, is a labor of love! This year, TrueNorth had two staff successfully complete this training and competency submission! Vicki Carver, BS, successfully completed her competency as a Family-Based Mental Health Worker and is now qualified to sit for the state certification exam. Sabrina L. Valente, MA (Program Director) successfully completed her competency and is now qualified as a Certified Family Based Mental Health Supervisor. Sabrina also recently conducted a training session on ESFT and LGBTQ Clients at the Program’s Director Meeting for PCFTTC.

Current Challenges:
Openings are often few and far between because of the length of service (32 weeks). This means that we can’t serve all the referrals that we receive.

What you’re working on:
Currently, the Family-Based program is working on a trauma project in conjunction with CCBH and HealthChoices. This means we’ve begun screening all the caregivers in the family we’re working with for a trauma history, as well as the child. We have also begun screening these caregivers and children/adolescents for trauma symptoms so we can better understand the way in which their experiences are manifesting in order for us to better help the family as a whole. We’re also sending all of our staff through an 18 hour online training program in Family Trauma to help staff feel more comfortable understanding the impact of trauma on the entire family system and best practice guidelines to directly intervene with these families.

Upcoming goals:
I would love to create a program or group that links families who are in similar situations in order to give them support on a long-term basis. So many of the families that we work with feel like they are alone or have limited natural supports. It would be great to hook them up with each other to help build up a sense of community and connectedness that will help families continue to thrive long after FamilyBased is discharged. I’m not sure how this can be accomplished yet, but it’s definitely something I’d like to develop at some point!

What To Do With End Of Summer Emotions

You are looking at the calendar and you realize you’re in the last leg of summer and the new school year is nearly here. Where did the time go? This revelation most likely results in a variety of emotions, for both children and parents alike. Excitement. Dread. Sadness. Remorse. Anxiety. This plethora of emotions is a completely normal reaction. But how do you cope and prepare for the upcoming school year?

Express your feelings. And, encourage your child to do the same. When we express our feelings, we are empowered. We are able to identify what is bothering us, and take action on those feelings. It also allows us to be truthful, and more accurately perceived.

Address your feelings. Some of the most common emotions for back to school time are excitement, fear, sadness, remorse, anger, and anxiety. It can be valuable to address each of these feelings to help you both cope with the emotions, as well as, prepare for the school year.

Excitement. Recognize the excitement your child is having. Maybe they are excited to see their friends, or for you as a parent, maybe you are looking forward to the routine that school brings. Talk about this excitement and share in it with your child.

Sadness. Let’s face it. For many of us, summer can be a lot of fun. Summer brings the sun, and opportunities to be outside, or swimming. Worries often seem less in the summer, and parents and children often really revel in summer relaxation. Again, talk about the sadness. Think of ways to carry the things you like doing during the summer into the school year. For example, if you really like to be outside, how can you incorporate that into the school year?

Remorse. The end of summer often brings a list of could haves, would haves, and should haves. All the things we intended to do but didn’t accomplish. Consider ways to incorporate these items into your regular routine. Are these items that must be completed in the school year?

Anger. Consider the source of your anger. Is it related to remorse? Or sadness?

Anxiety. The change in routine to the school year can be very anxiety-producing for both children and adults. Who will my teacher be? Will any of my friends be in my class? Will I hear from the principal this school year? What school supplies are needed? The list goes on and on. Take time to answer these questions independently or with your child, as appropriate. Brainstorm resolutions to the uncertainly. For example, will my friends be in my class? What would happen if they weren’t? What could we do to continue to see old friends? And what can we do to make new ones?

The emotions related to the end of the summer can be plentiful, and contradictory. They can vary from day to day or minute to minute. Take time to both express and address these emotions in order to cope with and prepare for the beginning of the school year. If the emotions are overwhelming, or inhibit your ability to function in your day-to-day, consider seeking outside help. Mental health professionals are trained to deal with a variety of concerns, and are ready, able, and happy to help!

By: Cori Reed, MA, LPC, LBS – Harrisburg BHRS and School Based Program Manager